Breastfeeding friendly (BFF) Chester hosted “Breastival” at Storyhouse, the latest community event at the popular cultural centre.
Laura Evans, the infant feeding coordinator for the NHS- Cheshire and Wirral partnership explained: “My role is to support women breastfeeding for as long as they wish.. We organised todays event with Nicola from Storyhouse and the volunteers from BFF Chester to normalise breast feeding, get everybody together and celebrate” . The event included a range of talks in the Garret theatre covering topics such as sleep, the importance of skin to skin after a baby’s birth, Colic and allergies in babies. Various local groups were also in attendance offering taster sessions for community activities.
Laura said that breastfeeding rates in the area were lower than the national average. “About 70% of women start breast feeding and by the time the baby reaches 6-8 weeks that’s gone down to about 35%. One of the reasons why people stop breast feeding is that they feel there isn’t the support for them or they feel there aren’t places they can breastfeed. Our aim with BFF Chester is to normalise breastfeeding. ” The many benefits of breastfeeding include reduced risk of female cancer, heart disease, diabetes, as well as a quicker return to pre pregnancy body weight because of the calories burnt. “Its good for mental health because of the hormones and it supports bonding and attachment. Its full of antibodies so that the first feed you give is like the baby’s first immunisation. If people don’t continue to breastfeed its fantastic that they give the first feed, we support people where they give one feed or whether they carry on. For the baby it reduces the risk of ear infections, respiratory problems, allergies and infections. The relationship and attachment that they have with their parents because they’re constantly being attended to. ”
Volunteer Helen of BFF Chester spoke about the cards used to promote breastfeeding and encourage parents: ” The other day in Marks and Spencer a very nervous mum was hiding in the corner. I went over and thanked her and gave her a card and it boosted her confidence to breast feed in public. The cards normalise breast feeding and say thank you for feeding in public. Support is the key thing. Our volunteers support each other .”
BFFC hope that Chester will become increasingly breast feeding friendly, building on the good work done by the group so far. Laura praised the support from local businesses and local parents with 80-100 mums attending the launch event in June. “People are coming with their partners as well, its very hard to succeed at breastfeeding if you haven’t got the support, whether it be a partner, a mother or a sister or someone else, you have to have that support” With more than 40 businesses signed up already, Helen also thanked Storyhouse for their support:
” Storyhouse have helped us, you don’t need to come into the cafe, you can just pop into the library and feed your baby!”
Nicola Haigh community coordinator for Storyhouse commented that ” the reason we are doing Breastival is because Storyhouse is the story telling community centre. People can come together and tell their stories. We have pulled this event together with lots of support. Ultimately we will also be reducing social isolation which is one of our main goals. Every week we make one of our films parent and baby friendly, every Wednesday and that’s completely breast feeding friendly as well. ”
for more other see https://www.facebook.com/breastfeedingfriendlychester/